Folk Beliefs
Magic

Bizarre Elementary School Tradition

My informant went to an elementary school in Seattle, and she told me about a very bizarre yet fascinating belief and tradition that was specific to her school. Here is a transcription of our conversation:

Informant: “So, my elementary school building is like really big, it’s like this old brick building.”

Me: “And what’s the name of your elementary school?”

Informant: “It’s called McGilvra Elementary School. And, uh, it’s like a few blocks from my house. And, it has like a really giant attic with really high ceilings, and there’s like this one door on the top floor where the fifth graders’ classrooms are that leads to the attic that’s always closed. And there is like… this very mysterious door that the fifth graders would always talk about a lot. And so every year the fifth graders would get to go on a tour of the attic, and every time someone went up there, uh, there is this plastic mannequin leg that is super glued to the floor in the middle of this giant attic. And it’s like, this giant attic- it’s a giant attic but it has one thing in it which is this plastic mannequin leg.”

Me: “What is the significance of this plastic mannequin leg?”

Informant: “And so they tell all the fifth graders every year: ‘This is the leg of our founder of our school, Mr. McGilvra. And, uh, Mr. McGilvra haunts the school and if you go into the attic, uh, by yourself without permission he will take your leg and super glue it to the floor.'”

This particular story is so bizarre but so hilarious to me, and I appreciate the fact that no matter how outlandish it might seem, elementary school kids will develop their own folk beliefs around their school and take them completely seriously.

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